A long time ago, in a world that doesn’t exist any longer, the Cold War was a real threat and TV secret agents took themselves very, very, seriously. That is, all except one: Maxwell Smart. Also known as “Agent 86” he was portrayed to awkward, imbecilic perfection by the late Don Adams; his exploits were chronicled in five seasons of the show “Get Smart” on network TV. Assisted by fellow agent (later girlfriend; then wife,) known only as “99”, portrayed by Barbara Feldon, Agent 86 managed to put himself in more peril than his enemies ever dreamed of causing yet somehow he always saved the day, frequently despite his own best efforts.
Now the venerable show is being recreated as a major motion picture, with new players, new situations, new gadgets, a vastly increased budget and hopefully a chance of capturing a touch of that earlier comedy lighting-in-a-bottle. Here’s one possible scene from that film:
“Oh, Max, you don’t have to do that,” Agent 99 said with a bright apologetic smile as her partner, the bumbling Agent 86, came up carrying her glittering evening gown; barely avoiding tripping on the long cape. “I’ve been dressing myself since I was a little girl.” She turned back to her dressing mirror and tugged a raven-hued pageboy styled wig into place over her own dark brown locks, standing there clothed only in her lacy undergarments and a semi-transparent robe.
“But 99, the Chief said our cover was as a couple, so I just wanted to be convincing,” Agent 86, also known as Maxwell Smart, replied. “Shouldn’t you be in character too?”
“Just in public, Max; at the party, where I need to make a scene. For now, there’s nobody here to see us. Oh, stop holding that dress. You’re making me nervous. Put it over there,” she said with a hint of impatience, pointing to her dressing table.
Draping the slinky garment on the tabletop, Max turned back towards her to better appreciate the view of his sexy partner. There was a rustle behind him as the dress fluidly slid into a heap on the floor. He turned to the sound, looking annoyed at it.
99 had seen everything; her pretty face scowled. “Max! Now look what you’ve done.”
“Oh. Sorry about that.”
“Things would have been fine if you’d just left my dress alone, hung on the rack, which is where I’m putting it before something else happens.” She walked briskly past him, bent over gracefully to scoop up the fallen dress, and strode over to the closet on her long legs. She, too, was concerned about the mission as well as her unproven partner.
He decided to change the subject. “Okay, but what if someone is watching us? You never know if one of these artworks has a camera in it,” Max muttered, looking at the abstract paintings on the wall, “or this statuette…” He examined the small marble figurine closely while almost knocking it off the pedestal before grabbing it at the last second and putting the sculpture back in place.
99 meanwhile had seated herself at the make-up mirror and was brushing her face with a soft powder puff, unaware of the near-accident. “I think you’re letting your imagination get the better of you. This is a simple first mission; no huge intrigue.”
“It never hurts to be prepared,” he replied weakly. Most of a minute passed as he watched her applying her makeup and continued to stealthily, or so he thought, scan the room for bugs. He was already dressed in his custom-tailored tuxedo.
“Well if you’ve got nothing better to do, you could bring me my jewelry case; it’s just inside the door,” she asked, paying most of her attention to her face.
“Sure, honey, be happy to,” he perked up, heading quickly towards the travel case and grabbing it by the handle. Unfortunately, 99 had already undone the latches so when he lifted the case, all the contents spilled out on the carpet. He glanced over at 99; she was still absorbed in the mirror and hadn’t seen or heard his latest gaffe. Quickly he started tossing necklaces, earrings, tiaras, and golden pendants back into the case haphazardly. There was hardly any room for anything else when he saw the perfume sprayer where it had almost rolled under a chair.
“What’s taking so long, Max?” 99 called out, with just a hint of discontent in her voice.
“Um, no problem, dear,” he covered, frantically trying to get both latches closed, failing, and settling for carrying the case in both hands. Surely she’d notice the mess; he decided on a diversion. Placing the case on the edge of the table, he moved closer to her as she was putting the last touches of color on her face. “Say, 99, how about a little spritz of perfume on the back of your neck? You’ll smell nice then when you’re dancing with the baron.”
“What do you mean?” she asked idly, concentrating on her dark eyelashes as she heard the hissing sound of an aerosol and an odd flowery sweet fragrance along with a cool breeze between her shoulder blades. That wasn’t her usual perfume… “Max! NO!”
She was on her feet in an instant, looking for her jewelry case and a little silver pen, but everything was jumbled around. “That’s not per-fume,” she continued, her voice suddenly slowing down, “it’s in-stan-t fr…” she managed to blurt out before stopping in mid-word. Her unblinking eyes held a hint of fear and surprise; 99’s whole body had become stuck in place, as rigid as a statue. One outstretched arm was held stock-still, reaching for Max, her fingers stiffly grasping for something. As seconds passed, she showed no sign of resuming her former liveliness.
“99, are you okay?” Max asked her pointlessly, waving his hand in front of her static expression. “99?” He snapped his fingers in her eyes; there wasn’t even a blink. She was completely paralyzed; frozen in place. Looking down at his other hand, he saw the sprayer of ‘perfume’ and realized it had come from Control’s gadget-meister and how it was supposed to play into their mission later on. Now it had turned his partner into a living mannequin sooner than expected. He looked up at her; “Ahh, the old potion in a perfume bottle trick…”
99, of course, was unable to say or do anything in response.
Max turned one way and then the other; towards the door and then back to 99, his frantic movements in contrast to the immobilized female agent’s absolute stillness. He knew that she was supposed to dance at the ball and had no idea how long the ‘instant freeze’ effect would last. Regretting now that he’d let his attention wander during the gizmo briefing, 86 racked his memory trying to recall where the antidote had been hidden while at the same time he hadn’t noticed that his unmoving partner’s pose stopped with her index finger pointing towards a slim chrome-plated writing instrument that had fallen on the table from her the case.
“What should I do?” Max asked; 99 only stared back at him with empty, wide-set eyes. “The mission must go on; that’s the main thing, right?” he continued, talking mostly to himself. “Got to get you ready for the dance, check. Come on, 99; you can shake off the effects of that stuff. You can do it!” He shook her a couple of times on one shoulder. She didn’t move a muscle, but simply wobbled in place; it was clear her whole body was as stiff as a board. “Now, that’s going to be a slight problem.”
His darting eyes fell on her empty dress hanging in the closet then to 99 standing nearby, posed like a dressmaker’s dummy. “Hmm, I wonder…”
He felt strange coming up to the younger agent; as much as he’d been taken by her beauty and snuck looks at her when she wasn’t aware, this was the first time they had actually been this close. He could see now the sluggish, almost imperceptible, rise and fall of her chest. Her arm, though unmoving, was warm and her skin normally soft. With a slight bit of effort, he raised her arm up against the stiffness and when he released her arm, it stayed in place. He repeated the experiment with her other arm; with it left held in front of her, she looked even more like a mannequin than before. “Believe me, 99, this is for the good of the mission,” he whispered to her before continuing. There was no sign she’d heard anything he’d said, but Maxwell Smart was always a gentleman; at least when people were watching.
Within minutes, he was able to arrange her to stand upright with her arms held stiffly above her head, fingers pointed at the ceiling. While she stood in that position, by climbing on a chair he was able to slip the gown over her from above and guide it over her shapely figure with only a small amount of groping and tugging. Fortunately, it had been custom-fitted to 99’s proportions and zipped closed without a hitch, gripping her curvy figure like a glove. Her wig had gotten pulled down along the way; now it was cocked over her forehead. Trying to not make things worse, he slipped it back into place. Taking some items from her jewel case, 86 added a strand of pearls around her neck and a matching bracelet to her arm, once he had lowered it again. In her other hand, he molded her fingers around a small beaded clutch purse where he’d placed her one-shot pistol, lacy handkerchief and set of lock picks. With a couple of pats to her hairdo, he knew 99 was as ready as she was going to get with his help, though he did take a moment to close her half-open mouth and tilt her head up slightly. She looked stunning, but in her continued state of immobility looked more appropriate to be gracing a fancy store’s display window than the party that was starting downstairs.
“You just wait right there; come down when you can. I’ll try to cover the time,” Max reassured her as he checked himself in a mirror and headed out the door, leaving 99 posed alone in their room. The scene froze just as the door was almost closed.
INT. EDITING BAY – NIGHT
“Well, whad’ya think?” the gray-haired editor asked, taking another swig of the energy drink on the console, setting it down among several matching empties. Leaning over him, looking at the wide-screen monitor, the director paused.
“Dunno. It plays well; Steve is golden as usual and who knew Annie was such a good mime? She really kept herself motionless..”
“Remember her in PD2? Did a good job there, too, but that was only a visual effect; all green-screen with a held frame.”
“Whatever. Get back to this scene,” the director reminded. “I don’t think it’s that necessary. We give the audience a flash of her body earlier, then cut to his slapstick with the canapé trays. She can come in after, dressed and dazzling, then pick up with the Baron’s reaction from there?”
“True; that gets us to the dance number, and where she gets lifted. But what about her posing in the museum later? Doesn’t this scene set that up?”
“We can lose that, too. After all, these are moving pictures, not still lifes. Right?”
“Yeah; got it.” The editor typed a few characters, then hit the function key marked ‘Delete’; the remaining image of the door closing blanked from the screen and was replaced with a different one of a throng of partygoers at the top of a stairway. Anne in this scene appeared in shadow, taking a step into the ballroom.
“OK, what’s this next?”
Get Smart opens in theatres on June 20, 2008…
Would you believe there is a website dedicated to the Get Smart TV series? Of course there is, at http://www.wouldyoubelieve.com/